Corona crisis: country updates

In this article you will find an update from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), who are involved in the crisis measures surrounding the Coronavirus and informs Royal FloraHolland about the impact of the virus on the export market.

The Netherlands
Together with a wide representation from the sector including Royal FloraHolland, Bloemenbureau Holland is in the process of developing a new campaign to create an extra turnover boost for flowers and plants when the most restrictive restrictions regarding corona will have been lifted. The campaign is set to emphasize the relevance of flowers and plants, based on insights into the changed behaviour of consumers.

Because of the corona crisis, entrepreneurs have never been as pessimistic as they are now. Business confidence was -37.2 compared to 6.4 in the previous quarter. This is the biggest decline ever measured and is still well below the low point of the financial crisis. Expectations for the next three months are negative in all industries, but there are large differences between them. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Chamber of Commerce (KVK), the Economic Institute for the Construction Industry (Economische Instituut voor de Bouw), MKB-Nederland (MKB-Nederland) and the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW) on the basis of the Netherlands Economic Survey. The data for this survey were collected in April 2020, before the relaxation of the measures announced on 6 May. (Source: Tuin en Landschap, 15-05-2020)

Questions coming into the Agriculture and Horticulture Employers' Line as to whether it makes sense for employees to start testing themselves with so-called corona rapid tests. During the eighth webinar of the Employers' Line, Peter Baltus, project leader LTO Noord Projecten, said he did not think this made sense. Baltus understands that entrepreneurs are looking for space to allow work to continue as best as possible, especially now that corona measures are being relaxed. However, he strongly advises employees not to test for corona themselves, because there are major objections to testing. (Source: De Bloemisterij, 15-05-2020)

Dutch garden centres are approximately 10% ahead of last year in terms of sales. However, there are also exceptions. On the other hand, garden centres in the border region with Germany and Belgium are having a hard time. Frank van der Heide of Tuinbranche Nederland says that Dutch garden centres are about 10 to 11% in the plus compared to last year. Especially the week before Easter was a 'top week' according to him. He says that in the magazine Tuinzaken. But these good figures do not apply to garden centres in the border region with Germany; in the east of the Netherlands and Limburg, according to him, the hardest hit were the garden centres. "The German border is closed at weekends and in Zeeland, tourists are banned and Belgians are not allowed into the country. (Source: De Boomkwekerij 19-05-2020)

To help florists set up their shop according to the 'other half-meter society', VBW has drawn up a protocol to enable safe shopping. Although the measures relating to the corona crisis are slowly easing, the 'other half meter society' is the norm for the time being. Entrepreneurs must adhere to the guidelines drawn up by the government to make safe shopping possible, both for customers and employees. VBW has agreed the protocol with the ministries involved and asks florists to abide by the established rules in order to stay open and avoid fines. (Source: Bloem en Blad, 19-05-2020)

A total of 23 videos ensured 22 million virtual visitors to the Keukenhof in recent weeks. When, just before the opening of the show window of the floriculture sector, it appeared that it was not allowed to open its gates because of the risk of contamination with COVID-19, the Keukenhof employees changed tack. They didn't give in, but started an online and television campaign. And with success. (Source: Floranews, 13-05-2020)

UK
Scotland aims to relax lockdown measures on 28th May. Relaxations would include more opportunities for outdoor activities and meeting people from other households with social distancing, starting certain sports, but also resuming certain outdoor activities. It is also expected that the garden centres can be reopened. (Source: BBC, 20-05-2020)

In Northern Ireland, the garden centres reopened on 18th May as part of the first step of the relaxation measures. In addition, groups of up to 6 people, who do not belong to the same household, are allowed to meet outside, taking into account social distancing. Churches and places of worship can be opened for private prayer and some sports, such as golf and tennis, can be restarted. Other outdoor activities where there is no shared contact with hard surfaces, including some water sports, are allowed, as more and public sports venues and outdoor spaces may be reopened. (Source: BBC, 19-05-2020)

According to the IMRG CapGemini Online Retail Index last April, online sales of plants, flowers, bulbs and seeds were almost 300% higher than in April 2019. (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, LNV, 15-05-2020)

Lidl launches a brand new range of plants to brighten up the home for just £1.49. The new collection is called Bloom Your Room and is designed to help people brighten up their homes. Environmentally conscious customers with gardens also have the option of collecting Lidl's plastic-free bedding plants (£2.99). The plants are supplied in plastic-free trays as part of Lidl's commitment to packaging its products sustainably. (Source: Walesonline.co.uk, 16-05-2020) 

Supermarket chain Co-op recommends that the National Farmers' Union and the British floriculture sector be inspired by the Dutch campaign 'Let Hope Bloom' and draw attention to the situation in the sector with a similar campaign. (Source: Landbouwattaché Netwerk Ministerie van LNV, 14-05-2020)

France
FNMJ offers 100,000 masks for the health sector; since the beginning of the crisis, the Fédération Nationale des Métiers de la Jardinerie (FNMJ) has been committed to helping and supporting all its members. Having worked on the gradual resumption of activities in the sector in close collaboration with the government from 15th March, on 8th April they published a guide with recommendations for good health practices to ensure the protection of workers and customers. Subsequently, on 11th May, in addition to government guidelines, they published a specific protocol to properly manage the follow-up of guidelines. Finally, the FNMJ board of directors decided on 7th April to order 1 million masks for its members. Now the directors of the FNMJ want to donate 100,000 masks to the National Platform of the Ministry of Health, which will then redistribute them to sectors struggling with problems. (Source: JAF-Info, 20-05-2020)

In France, a major TV campaign in the mainstream media is planned to boost consumption; in order to revitalize the market and extend the season as long as possible, growers, VAL'HOR and GNIS, wanted to join forces to launch a large-scale campaign on the largest national media. This campaign highlights the passionate women and men who represent the different professions in our sector: horticulturists, nurserymen, seed producers, wholesalers, florists, garden advisers, landscape architects and designer gardeners. This powerful campaign, broadcast daily from 18th May to 7th June 2020 on TF1, France 2, France 3, France 5 and BFM TV, highlights the expertise of plant professionals and invites the general public to reconnect with the world of living that this crisis has only allowed them to observe from a distance. Trees, flowers, plants, seeds; the pleasure of contact with nature; are missed every day for two months. (Source : JAF-info,18-05-2020)

Belgium
In Hemelvaartsweekend possible decision of the Flemish government on the General Emergency Fund for a.o. ornamental horticulture. (Source: Landbouwattaché Netwerk Ministerie van LNV, 20-05-2020)

Research by VLAM: short chain is on the rise, in 2029 a turnover of 70 million; one in five Flemish people already bought at the farmstead and/or the farmer's market last year and he did so on average 9 times over the whole year. In 2019, the turnover of direct sales on the farmstead and farmers' markets amounted to 70 million euros in Flanders. The largest sales in the short chain were fruit and vegetables (35%), followed by meat (22%), potatoes (14%), dairy (11%) and flowers and plants (6%).

Many forms of short chain: the short chain has many forms of supply. The best known are farm shops and farmers' markets, but the short chain also includes vending machines on the farm, neighbouring farms (Boeren & Buren), vegetable subscriptions, self-picked gardens, CSA initiatives and food teams. Why buy in the short chain: the consumer has a positive feeling about short chain because of the qualitative products, the shopping experience and sustainability. He also wants to support the local farmer and reduce food miles. He also experiences a price advantage for a number of products. The farm is the cheapest purchase channel for potatoes. For vegetables, fruit and unprocessed meat, prices on the farm are comparable to supermarket prices. For meat preparations and home-made dairy products such as yoghurt, ice cream and cheese, on the other hand, the farm is more expensive than the supermarket and prices are comparable to those of a speciality shop. (Source: VLAM.be, 20-05-2020)

Kenya
In Kenya, perishable exports have suffered a huge loss due to last minute flight cancellations. Of course, the whole world is struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic which continues to affect lives across the world. The disease has also paralysed trade and business, putting economies on the brink of collapse and causing global stock markets to collapse.

The transport and logistics sector is a major victim of Covid-19.

The industry facilitates freight transport to various geographical locations and supports key economic sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, aid and relief, construction and education. However, Covid-19 has made it extremely challenging to move goods, affecting trade between regions. (Source: FloralDaily, 19-05-2020) 

The outbreak of COVID-19 has had consequences for entrepreneurs doing business in or with Kenya. We offer an overview of useful information for everyone involved in agribusiness in Kenya.

The agriculture team of the Dutch embassy can answer further questions via nai-lnv@minbuza.nl. The Kenyan Ministry of Health is the main source of information about COVID-19 in Kenya. It publishes a daily update on the spread of the virus and communicates the most important information on the containment of the virus on their COVID-19 page. 

Below we give an overview of useful websites based on the kind of questions we receive: 

  • For Dutch entrepreneurs doing business in African countries:
  • The Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland has created an overview of useful information in Dutch. A number of FAQs for entrepreneurs are answered here by the Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland.
  • The European Commission's response to the COVID-19 pandemic includes a number of transport restrictions, which can be found on the European Commission's website.
  • The Kenya Private Sector Alliance has opened a 24-hour call centre and information portal for companies. More information can be found on their website. This website provides an overview of information provided by the Government of Kenya on COVID-19 related measures, drawn up by the Dutch Embassy. (Source: Land-bouwattaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, 19-05-2020)


Italy
50,000 weddings in Italy cancelled; 50,000 weddings in Italy are cancelled because of the corona crisis, reports Italian media. More cancellations may follow. Marriages are usually an important buyer of flowers. After Mother's Day, the betting season normally starts in Italy. Many couples from home and abroad choose to get married in Italy. This year, however, things will be different, weddings and events cannot take place because of the security measures against the corona virus. 50,000 weddings in Italy have been cancelled. It is possible that more weddings in Italy will be cancelled in the coming months. Every year 170,000 couples celebrate their wedding there. Between 15,000 and 20,000 come from abroad. Favorite locations are Tuscany, Lombardy, Puglia and Sicily. Shops are open again in Italy. Mother's day went well for florists. The Italian florist organization Federfiori has made a calendar with initiatives that can help florists to keep the flowers and plants under the attention of consumers in the coming period. La settimana delle Rose or the week of the roses from 23 to 31 May is the first initiative. Avalanche+ is one of the roses hooked up to this week. This white rose is linked to wedding in Italy. With participation growers hope to market the flower more widely. (Source: Hortipoint, 18-05-2020)

Poland
Tired of lockdown and without perspective for traveling abroad. Poland visited garden centres to buy ornamental plants for their gardens and balconies. In Poland garden centres - not like in many other countries - were closed throughout the lock. And with the first warm days, Poles showed their desire for greenery and massively visited garden centres to buy plants. In some cases it even caused a lack of assortment because not all centres kept their first orders from plant producers. For Polish producers it is normally a high season and again this year they should not complain. Perhaps only for lack of fertilizers and other equipment they need for regular production purposes, caused by an unusually high demand this year. (Source: Agro-messages Abroad, 15-05-2020)

Source: Royal FloraHolland


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